So you want to eat your yard

ImageWith all the talk about GMO’s, pesticides, food waste and the rising cost of groceries, I made a decision earlier this year to become completely self sustainable. It’s a process.

The thought of renting or purchasing a tiller and tedious seed planting then a summer of weeding really didn’t seem appealing or practical. Especially when I could walk into any grocery store during the fall harvest and buy a ten pound bag of potatoes or beets for two bucks.

But then I discovered permaculture! These crazy food forests that self seed or produce perennial crops. You wouldn’t dare till! Just add – newspaper, leaves, compost, twigs, dieing plants…..I have visions of wandering through a lush forest, foraging for berries, apples, beans, squash, grapes – oh my! Never again will I fidget impatiently in a line behind the 90 year old who still is trying to pay with the stash of pennies they have saved from the great depression.

I can walk right out my back door, basket in hand and select my fresh dinner of choice. I could do that and still wear my pajamas! (My ultimate goal in life is to wear my pajamas all day, every day) I already have a start on this permaculture thing! I’ve been doing it all along and never even realized it was a movement! I have concord grapes on my sunshade, tayberries growing up the side of my barn, the best patch of rhubarb in town – ask anyone. An apple tree and a great crabapple tree that sprouted up on its’ own a couple of years ago and produced a stunning show of spring blossoms. And all that stuff I THOUGHT were weeds? Well turns out they have all kinds of uses and play an important role in my food forest. Let ’em grow!

I didn’t know where to start. The more I read about permaculture (and there’s a lot!) the more excited I became! I started randomly filling nooks and crannies of my flower gardens with onions and beans. I planted more beans in the containers on the back deck and filled the others with herbs. I had been burying an old fire pit on my property with twigs and leaves then discovered I could get free wood chips from the township. I put them everywhere and added them to that fire pit that mounded into a lovely decaying den of iniquity for squash plants. In went the seeds. There is a name for that too it turns out – HugelKultur!

The more I read about permaculture the more I realized it was a science and it was going to take planning and strategy. I started taking notes, and drew a big master plan. I joined permaculture groups and took online courses. I started to preach to people with this crazed look in my eye. Then came pinterest – I won’t even get started on that, and spoke at a local presentation on food forests as though I had been doing it all my life.

I was excited to harvest my small bounty and waited patiently for the grapes to turn that lovely shade of purple to indicate just the right amount of tartness. I missed out on the best of the rhubarb because my patch sits close to the road and mysteriously vanishes in midnight harvesting raids. I know who you are. I have seen you drive by nonchalantly in that old pick up truck to see if it’s ready. Some insect got at the beans in the container off the deck and the dog tromped my onions. I managed to beat the squirrels to my apples but they got most of the squash seeds.

I still had those grapes though. They were coming in beautifully. A couple more days. I was busy on pinterest gathering recipes for grape jam, grape jelly, grape chutney. I grabbed my basket, still in my pajamas and headed for the sunshade. Grape holocaust! Hundreds of half eaten and squashed grapes littered my flagstone patio and stained my outdoor furniture cushions. There were grapes everywhere! Mangled, unripened bunches left behind. The raccoon! The one that took up residence in my barn this summer! I even took out treats for him the ungrateful sot! Saved him from a fate worse than death at the hands of my ferocious toy poodle!

I still had my crab apples though. Never mind that I could have collected those from any one of the million crab apple trees littering the side roads. I settled on a jalapeno, crab apple jelly and it turned out amazing. Oh well – maybe next year will turn out a little better.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “So you want to eat your yard

  1. It made me hungry and think about what to do with my yard.

  2. SMW

    I was so excited for the grape jelly, too! Dang raccoon! But I’d certainly be willing to try the crab apple jalapeno jelly…….

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